Compensation money to fund new trees in Oldham

Reporter: Charlotte Green
Date published: 23 June 2020

More than a hundred saplings are being planted across Oldham as compensation for protected trees felled ‘unlawfully’ by a housing association.

In January 2018, trees subject to tree preservation orders (TPOs) were cut down by First Choice Homes housing association during building work at a site in Bardsley.

Residents were furious as the trees, at Keb Lane, were chopped down without permission as First Choice began constructing 28 homes.

In law, any person contravening a TPO is ‘guilty of an offence’ and is liable to pay a fine of up to £20,000 per tree.

There are approximately 500 tree preservation orders in place across Oldham.

In February 2018 First Choice agreed to pay compensation of £31,132.50 to the council for the lost Keb Lane trees to be spent on tree and woodland planting.

A council report, signed by deputy chief executive Helen Lockwood, states: “The money was paid as compensation for the loss of trees protected by a TPO and felled unlawfully.”

Now the town hall has agreed to use around half of the compensation cash to fund the planting of more than a hundred new trees across the borough.

“Environmental services would like to use £15,000 of this money to plant 110 new trees across Oldham in key positions to enhance the landscape and provide maximum eco-system benefits in terms of flood resilience, air pollution, carbon storage and carbon sequestration,” officers add.

“Trees provide so many eco-system benefits to society and help bring communities together, at the same time as being responsible for place making.”

It is considered an ‘appropriate use of the compensation’ paid by First Choice, they conclude.

The trees would be purchased from the authority’s regular supplier and also to include items such as tree stakes, ties and tree guards ‘where necessary’.

The new trees chosen are mostly 12-14cm ‘selected standards’ to grow between 2m and 3m in heigh. Some are larger – up to 5m tall.

Locations have been chosen at Waterhead, Failsworth, Chadderton, Fitton Hill, Uppermill, Alexandra, Derker, Springhead, Delph, Coppie, Primrose Bank, Salem, Royton, Holts and Hathershaw.

According to the report, the planting took place at the end of 2019 and into the beginning of 2020 by the grounds maintenance teams.

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